The William Jefferson Chronicles

William Jefferson's attorneys ask for 2-week sentencing delay
By Bruce Alpert, Times-Picayune
October 08, 2009, 2:50PM

Attorneys for former Rep. William Jefferson today asked for a two-week delay in sentencing their client. If granted, it would push sentencing from Oct. 30 to Nov. 13.

Prosecutors said they'd accept a one-week delay, but would object to anything longer.

Jefferson was convicted by a 12-member Virginia federal jury on 11 of 16 corruption charges on Aug. 5. His request for a new trial, based partly on information not disclosed to the jurors about a sexual relationship between an undercover FBI agent and the key government informant, Virginia businesswoman Lori Mody, was rejected by Judge. T.S. Ellis III, who presided over the eight-week trial.

Mody, who taped conversations with Jefferson, didn't testify during the eight-week trial. Prosecutors didn't explain her non-appearance during the trial, but the relationship with the FBI agent, who pretended to be Mody's driver, likely contributed to their decision.

In asking Ellis for a delay in sentencing, Jefferson's lawyers, led by Robert Trout, said a defendant is entitled to receive the pre-sentence report from the federal probation officer at least 35 days before sentencing. Jefferson didn't receive his report until Oct 1, meaning the earliest sentencing could occur under federal rules is Nov. 5, according to the brief filed by his attorneys today.

"However, in light of the factual and legal complexity of this case and the seriousness of the charges on which defendant was convicted, the defense respectfully requests an additional week, to Friday, Nov. 13, 2009," Jefferson's lawyers wrote. "This is only two weeks after the original sentencing date, and the additional time will greatly assist the defense in providing the Court with all of the information relevant to sentencing."

Jefferson, 62, was convicted of soliciting bribes, money laundering, depriving citizens of honest services as a member of Congress and turning his congressional office into a racketeering enterprise. He was acquitted of charges of obstruction of justice, violating the Foreign Corrupt Services Act and three honest services counts.

Prosecutors are likely to ask for a sentence of 20 years or more. His attorneys, who are owed over $5 million by Jefferson, according to a bankruptcy he and his wife filing filed after the guilty verdict, are likely to ask for a significantly lower sentence.

Ellis, who has expressed views that corruption is a particularly heinous crime, sentenced two others implicated in the Jefferson case to long prison terms - although both likely will get a reduction for their cooperation in the case.

Ellis sentenced Vernon Jackson, the CEO of iGate Inc. to seven years, three months in prison. Jackson testified that his payments to a company controlled by Jefferson's wife, Andrea and the couple's five daughters were bribes in return for the congressman's help landing telecommunications contracts in Western Africa.

Brett Pfeffer, a former Jefferson aide who brought Lori Mody into the iGate deal, who also testified against Jefferson, received an eight-year sentence for bribery related charges.

Jefferson's lawyers maintained that his activities, though possibly unethical, did not violate federal law because his actions to promote businesses in Western Africa aren't part of his official duties. The jury, with its verdict, rejected that argument.

Back to article index